FrankenKindle: building an alternate Kindle keyboard

If you’ve ever thought the Kindle keyboard was a bit cramped you’re not alone. [Glenn's] been working on developing an external keyboard for the Kindle for quite some time. It may not make easier for everyone to use, but he’s motivated to improve usability for his sister who has Cerebral Palsy.

We see a lot of keyboard hacks that solder straight to the pads under the buttons, but for a compact device like the Kindle this would really mess things up. Instead of going that route, [Glenn] sourced a 20-pin Flexible Flat Cable and breakout board that match the internal Kindle connector. The prototype seen above uses a TS3A5017 serial multiplexer chip to simulate the keyboard button presses. That multiplexer is driven by a Teensy++ microcontroller board which is monitoring a larger set of buttons on the V.Reader seen above. Check out the video after the break for a brief demonstration, then look around at the rest of [Glenn's] blog posts to view different steps of the development cycle.

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Run Kindle 3 firmware on Kindle 2 hardware

After about six weeks of testing [Yifanlu] has released a stable version of the Kindle 3 firmware for use with Kindle 2 hardware. Everything seems to be working just fine with the patched firmware. We immediately jumped to the conclusion that the upgrade must run pretty slow on the older hardware. [Yifanlu] addresses that assumption in his post. The Kindle 2 hardware is not as fast as the Kindle 3, but it sounds like the upgraded firmware is no slower than the stock firmware was on the older units.

Since the firmware is proprietary, the upgrade method requires that you own both Kindle 2 and Kindle 3. Three scripts will pull the firmware image from the older hardware, copy it over to the new hardware and patch it at the same time, then copy the fully patched package back to the old hardware for use.

After the break you can see a video of a Kindle DX running 3.1 firmware. There’s also a link to the Reddit post where commenters have linked to pre-compiled versions of the patched package.

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Kindle 3 powers this diy LED light

ePaper displays are easy on the eyes because there’s no flickering backlight to put strain on them. This is great until you’re trying to read in a dim environment. Of course Amazon will sell you a backlight that’s powered from the reader itself if you’re willing to pay. [Txoof] thought the price was a bit too high so he built his own version.

There are two pockets in the top of the Kindle reader for hooks to grab onto. Each has an electrical contact in it and together they provide about 4V of power. To patch into that source [Txoof] cut his own hooks from brass stock and mounted them onto a piece of basswood. He then cut and bent a hood from more of the brass stock to house the LEDs. A series of three of the white diodes draw their power from the hooks and shine onto to the display. As you can see this works just fine, but could benefit from just the right diffuser.

Kindle 3.1 Jailbreak

kindle_3_1_jailbreak

In the constant battle of manufacturers vs. jailbreakers, the turnaround time between a new software release and a new jailbreak seems to be getting shorter and shorter. [Yifan] noticed that a recent Kindle update broke a previous method of running unsigned code and started the search for a new workaround.

He eventually found a way to force the Kindle to run unsigned code based upon how the software update checked for digitally signed files. With that knowledge in hand, he discovered that he could trick the updater to run any file he wanted by exploiting the standard functionality found in the Unix ‘cat’ command.

On his site, [Yifan] provides more details, source code, and a compiled update file that performs the jailbreak for you. Much like the previous jailbreaks we have featured, it is perfectly legal to do, but you do risk voiding your warranty during the process.

[Picture via Amazon.com]

Kindle terminal with secret key-press activation

[Luigi Rizzo] has been working on some hacks for his 3rd generation Kindle. There is already a Python based terminal emulator called AjaxTerm but he wanted a lightweight standalone so he reimplemented the program in C. The 100k binary monitors the keyboard, launching the terminal emulator when it detects a Shift-T sequence. It also uses alternative key mapping to fill in for some of the keys the Kindle’s keyboard is missing.

We haven’t seen a whole lot of Kindle hacking since it was hacked to run Ubuntu. Seems like this terminal emulator is a useful and unobtrusive hack to try out on the beloved reader.

EEVblog dissects a kindle 3

guts!

[Dave] over at the EEVblog did a review of the kindle 3 recently, but never got to the good stuff, the guts.  He is now rectifying this with a full video dissection of the eReader. Full of details on how to open it up as well as specifics on the internals, this is a fun video to watch. One thing that caught our attention was the RFID tag on the inside of the case.  It is probably for inventory tracking, but we can’t help but have a few tinfoil hat type thoughts. You can watch the video after the break.

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Add a Bluetooth terminal to your Kindle

This is an Amazon Kindle DX with a Sparkfun Bluetooth Mate stuck in it. [Darron] hacked the two together in order to have a wireless serial terminal on the device. There are three big pads in the middle of the Kindle PCB labelled GND, RX and TX, making it easy to figure out those connections. Getting voltage was a bit more difficult. He managed to find 4V coming off of one side of the Kindle’s wakeup switch which works well because the Bluetooth Mate has a voltage regulator on board. To protect the Bluetooth module he modified it to pull-up the TX from the on-board regulated 3.3V rather than the 4V coming in from the Kindle.

He’s also been doing some software work on the device now that he has easy access to it. Along the lines of the Ubuntu-on-Kindle hack from September, he’s compiled QT for the Kindle and written a couple of programs such as Sudoku to show that it works.

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